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Executive Vp and Global Chief Actuary
XL Capital Ltd.
Susan Cross oversees all actuarial functions for XL Capital worldwide. She has served in multiple roles at XL, including senior vp and chief actuary of XL America Inc., and senior vp and chief actuarial officer of XL’s reinsurance operations. Ms. Cross has served as an editor of Casualty Actuarial Society’s publication “Variance.” She is a fellow of the Arlington, Va.-based Casualty Actuarial Society, a member of the Washington-based American Academy of Actuaries and an associate of the Schaumburg, Ill.-based Society of Actuaries.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE INDUSTRY: "I had a professor in college that was an actuary and I was taking basic math courses trying to decide between becoming a math teacher or possibly going on and doing advanced theoretical work in math. I decided that I liked the sound of the actuarial field because it combined what I loved to do with mathematics in a business context. When I graduated from university, I had the good fortune of having three offers of employment in the field and I ended up starting off my career working for an actuarial consulting firm doing defined benefit pension work, which isn’t exactly the insurance field but (is) related. After about 2½ years in that role, I had the opportunity to move to Bermuda. It involved changing from the pension work to property casualty insurance, which was an easy kind of shift to make in that early stage in my career. It’s a little bit of being in the right place at the right time and having the right people make me aware of the field."
THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED: "For me, I think it was to get through my professional credentials, to continue with my actuarial exams, to get my fellowship and my full qualifications. Once you have a professional designation, whether it’s actuarial or something legal or underwriting with a CPCU or something along those lines, it shows that level of commitment beyond coming out of university and gives you that solid foundation for your career."
ADVICE FOR THOSE STARTING IN THE INDUSTRY: "While it’s important to have a solid technical background, your people skills, your communication skills are just as important, if not more so. You need to be able to communicate and present yourself and your ideas in an effective way. Don’t overlook the importance of that. How you interact with people is very important and will be very important to any individual’s success in the industry."
WHAT YOU WANTED TO BE PROFESSIONALLY WHILE GROWING UP: "A teacher. I think as I was going through high school, I really valued the good teachers I had, particularly in math where they made it really interesting. Even as I was getting older and recognizing math wasn’t necessarily a field for girls to get into, I thought I might like to help change that."
Business Insurance’s Women to Watch feature is our attempt to identify some of the women who do outstanding work in commercial insurance, risk management,employee benefits and related fields.